Dancehall is one genre of music that draws a huge following all across the globe. It originated from Jamaica and evolved from Reggae, ska, dub and became widely known as ‘toasting’ in the early days, which was usually dome by some deejays over sampled music back in the 1970s. Somehow the ink was largely marked as Ragga (short for Raggamuffin) and gained much popularity among ghetto youth. Wayne Smith’s “Under Mi Sleng Teng” which was produced in 1985 is largely recognised as the seminal Ragga song and there has been a whole bunch of artists such as Yellowman who helped propel the genre.
Malawian artists have also toyed with ragga or dancehall (as it is widely known nowadays) and it became quite popular in the 1990s when Rap and Ragga contests became the order of the day. Some of the local artists who have pioneered dancehall include Teargas, Dr Lizard, Anne Matumbi, San B (who went on to coin his own Honjo music) and late Vic Marley (came up with Hii-Hoo massive). Other groups such as The Don Dada Alliance have also made contributions to the game.
At the dawn the millennium, more youthful artists emerged on the scene and rode with the wave of dancehall to an extent that they equally asserted their mark as top guns themselves. From the likes of Malinga Mafia to Casablanca, Silvenia, Mafunyeta and a whole bunch of others, the dancehall adventure has been pretty exciting.
Another name that is worth taking note of is that of King Chambiecco, a husky voiced dancehall artist.
Born Happy Joshua Banda Mguza, King Chambiecco, also known as Zam’bongo, is one of the most gifted reggae dancehall artists Malawi has ever produced.
Quizzed on how the King Chambiecco name came about, the Kasungu-based artist described it as an illusion.
“The name just came from nowhere or perhaps one could say from illusion. I just named myself by the time I was starting making my music,” he said.
King Chambiecco’s first attempt in studio was recording a catholic hymn song in Dancehall.
“It’s an inborn talent, I believe, because my mother is much into choir music. She has been singing in a church choir for decades and music manifested in me at a very tender age. Me and my friends used to make guitars from gallons and drum kits up to a time I felt like composing my own music,” he said.
Inspired by Jamaican reggae music, King Chambiecco recorded his first single titled “Kachere” in 2010.
“It made big waves and got people to know me much than before. I did “Kachere” before a song titled “Password” which was quiet good as well. I released “Kachere” in my teenage years after I had written my MSCE,” he recalled.
“Kachere” was recorded at Wave Masters Studios by late DJ Madie in Kasungu and it featured Andy Seige.
There is something equally peculiar, in that, unlike most renowned artists who establish their solid base in the major cities once they make it big, King Chambiecco has remained where it all started from; Kasungu District.
He affirmed that he has always represented Kasungu regardless of the fame in music industry.
“I can say there is and there has not been anything special about Kasungu because I believe life is everywhere. It’s just been my resident place as any person can make it in life anywhere.
He however believes that being established in one place has its own advantages in that business networking is very easy.
“Staying in Kasungu my whole life gave me a chance to make some good friendships and business partners. I make my music which is my first career anywhere nationwide while operating from Kasungu,” he narrated.
Ad now, he is back in the limelight and riding at the top as this year, King Chambiecco has released “Man Ah Gennah” in which he features Malinga Mafia. The two dancehall heavyweights flex their muscle on the track, as they take turns to remind the people in as far as dancehall tunes go, they are generals who are always ready to fly the flag high and leave pretenders in their wake.
Currently making waves across the country, “Man Ah Gennah” was produced by Ngwazi Mw and DJ Wimbe.
His music is largely inspired by international artists; the likes of Beenie Man, Joseph Hill and Culture, Capleton, Sean Paul, Busy Signal, Masicka, Chronixx among many others.
As he sits and reflects on where dancehall has come from to be where it is today, the dread-rocked star believes the journey has been exciting every step of the way.
Commenting on the overall status of reggae dancehall in the country, King Chambiecco did not have to think twice as he pointed out that there has been slow progress regardless of the fact that many youths are making effort to propel the genre further.
“I see a lot of up and coming dancehall artists, even more than any other genres, which gives me the idea of the influence we have on this generation. The progress is there just that we are progressing slowly musically as a country in all genres. This applies to the arts not just as in dancehall music alone,” he noted.
He quickly pointed out that art as a whole, dancehall is not given the acknowledgment it is supposed to get.
Indeed, many players in the arts sector have equally lamented the limited support or lack of it from both the public and private sectors, which has even seen some artists galvanising themselves to push for the establishment of the arts council.
“At least there is a difference from some 10 years ago but we aren’t even a quarter there yet. If we had the support like in the sports sector, we would have been far and better than now,” King Chambiecco said.
You can bet that the booming voice of King Chambiecco is among those talking louder than a speaker-box on the issue and certainly his love for dancehall will not wane, if “Man Ah Gennah” is anything to go by.